Torbay Council Conservative leader ‘breached code of conduct’

The leader of the Conservatives at Torbay Council has been found to have brought the council into disrepute.

Does the Conservative sense of entitlement lie at the heart of these breaches of conduct? – Owl 

David Thomas was also found by the council’s standards committee to have used his position as a councillor to improperly gain an advantage.

It comes after a procedural row during a meeting in September last year descended into disarray, with one clerk too upset to continue their duties.

Mr Thomas was told he must write an “unequivocal” apology to the clerk.

The incident happened during the opening meeting of the council’s housing crisis review panel, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

An administrative error led to the panel being top heavy with Conservatives, not reflecting the political make-up of the council which is run by a coalition of Liberal Democrats and independents.

Fellow Tory councillor Hazel Foster, who was also found to have breached standards by bullying an officer, refused to accept a change that would have led to a more balanced panel.

An hour-long debate ensued and one clerk became visibly distressed and left the meeting.

On Friday, the standards committee found Mr Thomas had exacerbated problems and contributed to disorder at the meeting.

The standards committee deemed this was a breach of the council’s code of conduct as it brought the authority into disrepute.

Commenting on the accusation, Mr Thomas said: “I believe this meeting didn’t show [Torbay] council in the best of lights. It is certainly not the council’s finest hour.”

He said he honestly believed that when he spoke at the meeting he only did so to keep the meeting on track.

“I believe and I still believe there are lessons to be learned across the whole of that meeting,” Mr Thomas said.

In its conclusions, the standards committee recommended that training was provided to all councillors and relevant officers to prevent administrative confusion.